Last week one of the best things in my life just happened to me. Yes, I’ve made it possible, but I was far away to imagine the impact my action took on some people. Including me.
Everything started during a private dinner with other designers folks. During the conversations, one theme kept coming to the table: the gap between the education system and the professional design market. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but I bet that’s no different from Portugal. Apart from some schools and universities around the globe, the majority just teach their students things that simply are not “real” in our daily life as design professionals. How many of you already talked about this with someone? Yeah, you got it. So I decided that it was time to do something about it. And I did.
More than 15 years ago I had a teacher in high school that I will never forget. Her name is Ilda Vicente and she was my drawing teacher when I was 15 and Design Theory teacher when I was 18. Put it in simple terms, she’s the kind of teachers any kid should have. From the first time until now, 17 years passed (!) and a couple of years ago we got in contact again (thank you Facebook :)).
So right after that “designers dinner” I wrote in my moleskine:
“Why not approach Ilda Vicente with the idea of me giving a talk about creativity to her students or just be present to answer the kids doubts and questions about their future and the choices they have?”
And so it began. I contact her and she got as excited as I was. Perfect :).
Next step was inviting my great friend Ricardo Castelhano and ask him to show some videos about things related to creativity in physical computing and other areas that weren’t “famous” outside our own view as creative professionals. Without any questions, he accepted it.
I’ve been giving my “Hello Ideas” talk during the beginning of the year in some events where I was invited (this one and this one). I talk about creativity. A lot. So since I already had the theme, I just needed to adapt it to the audience. Instead of talking about creativity in our profession, I planned to talk also of how can we apply the creative thinking in our lives. Find a job, overcome personal problems, create a better path to the future… It was perfect for an audience composed by teenagers and their heads filled up with doubts.
And there it was. A room with 40 something teens starving to listen people who could inspire them.
Ricardo started with his video compilation. His experience as a teacher also helped to shake some things that the system takes as granted. What was supposed to be a 30 minutes session turned out into 50 minutes. “That’s Ricardo”, you could think (right João Gonçalves? :p). But no, this time was different. He just went with the flow… Everything was natural and it happened the case where the audience silently said “please continue”.
I asked Ilda: “ Shouldn’t the kids take a break?” Her answer was ”No no! Go while they’re motivated!”. And so I went.
I planned to talk for about 45 minutes, but… I did it for 1h30!
The kids reactions were amazing. Always on, always focused, they stayed in that class room for almost 3 hours without loosing motivation! As I was expecting, they had a lot of doubts about their future, just as I did when I was their age.
Here are my slides and notes: (english version coming soon)
I was curious about their reaction in the creative exercises. While amongst adults the rate on my scale goes to 10% success in the first circles exercise, they had almost 50%! It’s one more proof that we as adults DO loose our creativity if nothing is done.
I can never say by words what I felt and what I know some of them felt. When you get emails (you know who you are ;)) saying :
“You’ve made me think of how important creativity is in our lifes and how can it change it. But more that that, I want to thank you everything you said. I’m sure that it will help me in the future, and that it will change it too.”
“Before I listen to your words I was totally lost and without knowing what to do about the future, but then it happened like a light at the end of the tunnel and I realized that I might have the opportunity to have a fantastic future.”
“I would like to tell you about the dream I have to my life…”
This are strong words… I feel so humbled that this people saw me as a source of inspiration. And that is what you need to change the world. They have the will, we just have to give them a chance.
Thank you all on Escola Secundária José Afonso who were there, and special to Ilda Vicente who made this possible.
And remember: your happiness is only in your hands 🙂